Developing fine motor skills is an integral part of the early years of child development and this is why at Keren’s Nursery, we see this as a priority for all young children. These skills refer to the movement of hands, fingers, eyes, lips and tongue which all have an impact on a child’s everyday activities. Such as eating, talking, writing, and interacting with objects. Fine motor skills play a crucial part in a toddler’s development and are why nurseries, as part of the national curriculum, help develop these.
In this guide, we explore what fine motor skills are and how parents and carers can help improve these in their toddlers at home.
What Are Fine Motor Skills?
Fine motor skills can be generally defined as a child’s ability to use their small muscles, such as in their fingers, hands and eyes while completing activities. These muscles work continuously with the brain and nervous system and are a crucial part of a child’s development. Fine motor skills begin to develop in babies, such as through picking objects up and continue to develop as we age. These skills are integral to a child’s development because they play a role in their independence and cognitive ability.
For instance, fine motor skills can be developed through learning to write – which, obviously plays an integral role in a child’s education years later. Likewise, a toddler who learns how to get dressed independently will also benefit greatly in their fine motor skills.
To learn more about fine motor skills, visit the official government website here.
Benefits of Fine Motor Skills for Toddlers
There are many reasons why developing fine motor skills is important, especially in toddlers. One major benefit of developing fine motor skills is independence. Whether this be through picking up and eating foods alone, or learning how to cook, there are many ways in which the development of fine motor skills can raise independence in toddlers.
Another benefit to improving fine motor skills is that it creates stronger hand-eye coordination, a skill which is used and even developed during adulthood. For example, learning how to write, knit or even throw a ball are all examples of improving fine motor skills.
Lastly, another key advantage to fine motor skills is that it contributes towards a toddler’s overall ability to self-care. Activities such as learning how to cook, get undressed and draw are all examples of developing fine motor skills. Such skills will evidently play a huge role in a toddler’s later life, both personally and in terms of education.
How to Improve Fine Motor Skills in Toddlers at Home
Improving a toddler’s fine motor skills can be easily done at home. Below, find some easy and straightforward home-friendly activities toddlers can do to develop these important skills.
Involving children in everyday tasks, such as cooking and cleaning is in fact a great way to develop their fine motor skills. Cooking, in particular, is a widely suggested and popular way to develop these skills at home. This is because involving your toddler is easy, and requires little preparation. All you need is a recipe, and some kitchen utensils (which are child-safe) if your toddler requires more accessible tools. Whether it be rolling dough, chopping vegetables or mixing ingredients, these are all brilliant ways to develop a toddler’s hand-eye coordination alongside their independence. The children at Keren’s Nursery regularly partake in cooking activities and TasteEd sessions which involve educating children through food.
Sensory activities, such as playing with play dough and putty, sand as well as fingertip painting and weaving are all fun ways to improve your toddler’s fine motor skills. These activities can especially strengthen a child’s hand muscles, as well as improve their ability to hold and control tools such as paintbrushes. This can help with other activities beyond play, such as handwriting and tying shoelaces.
Gardening is another great way to improve a toddler’s fine motor functions. In fact, these can help further develop gross motor skills (movements which require full body movements). Digging, planting and watering are all great ways for toddlers to get involved with parents and carers, feel a sense of independence and improve these very important skills. At Keren’s Nursery, we pride ourselves in being a Forest School which allows the children to partake in outdoor activities such as gardening.
But, parents and carers should not worry if their child appears to be struggling with fine motor skills. Children all develop differently, and sometimes toddlers need that extra assistance to develop their early skills. There are plenty of activities parents and carers can find online today, which are free, fun and straightforward to implement at home.